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Flyers Haunted by ‘Ghost’ Trade; Face the D-man, Coyotes on Sun.

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Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes

For the Philadelphia Flyers, the 2021 July trade that sent puck-moving defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to Arizona looks worse each day.

The Flyers wanted to free cap space, so they dealt Gostisbehere to the Coyotes — and gave Arizona second- and seventh-round draft picks to take him. He had a $4.5 million cap hit and, at the time, two more years left on his contract.

Gostisbehere, now 29, had a big season with Arizona a year ago (14 goals, 51 points). This season, he has six goals and 20 points in 25 games for the Coyotes, who host the Flyers on Sunday at 7 p.m.

He would have been the Flyers’ top scoring defenseman in 2021-22 and this season. By far.

‘Ghost’ and defensive partner (and walking trade rumor) Jacob Chychrun have combined for 18 points (5-13) in Arizona’s last eight games. Gostisbehere’s 10 points in than span put him second among NHL defensemen.

Stunning win

As for Arizona, the Flyers (9-13-6) can’t sleep on the lowly Coyotes (8-13-4), who are coming off a stunning 4-3 win Friday over best-in-the-NHL Boston.

In that game, Gostisbehere (two assists), Lawson Crouse (two goals), and impressive rookie Matias Maccelli (two assists) led the way as Arizona ended a 19-game (0-18-1) losing streak in games against Boston.

The Coyotes, who were outshot by a 46-16 margin, played their first home game Friday at Arizona State’s Mullett Arena since Nov. 3. They went 4-7-3 on a 14-game road trip.

Arizona is playing at a 5,000-seat college rink  in Tempe for the next three seasons. The Coyotes had been playing at Gila River Arena, but the city of Glendale decided not to renew the deal.

The organization is in the process of funding a new arena for 2025-26, though both sides — the Coyotes and Mullett — have a mutual agreement and the team could play there in that 2025-26 season.

“It’ll be great,” Flyers forward Noah Cates said about playing at Mullett Arena. “One of the best things about college hockey is the student section. . .. They’re all intense, they’re all packed. It’ll be interesting, and I’m really looking forward to playing there.”

Cates, a former Minnesota-Duluth star, has nine points (3-6) in 28 games this season. He has not scored a goal in the last 12 games. The Flyers desperately need centers Cates and Morgan Frost (three goals, six points in 27 games ) to start producing.

The Flyers are coming off Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss in Vegas.

“I thought we had really god concentration on the details of the game,” coach John Tortorella said. “Lost ourselves a little bit in the second period. Lost a lot of faceoffs and it kind of changed the momentum. But I thought we played a strong game. … We held them to a lot of shots from the outside, (but) we just couldn’t make the next play and score the next goal.”

Prediction: Flyers, 3-2.

Breakaways

Felix Sandstrom (3.40 GAA, .889 save percentage) might get his first start in seven games. Tortorella will announce his starter a couple hours before the game. … Travis Konecny has three goals over his last five games. He leads Philly with 10 goals. … James van Riemsdyk has six goals in 17 career games against Arizona. … Nick Seeler tops the Flyers with a plus-5 rating. … Sunday’s game will be shown on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. … The Flyers are 3-5-5 on the road. … The teams will also meet Jan. 5 at the Wells Fargo Center. … In Friday’s 2-1 loss in Vegas, the Flyers were not awarded a power play for the second time this season.

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